For a sweet diversion, check out Cary eighth-grader Aditya Pillutla as he competes for $25,000 on the “Kids Baking Championship” Mondays at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.
Aditya, 12, is one of eight contestants putting their baking skills to the test. The youngsters — all between the ages of 10 and 13 — must conquer confectionary challenges from sweet pizzas to imposter dessert challenges. On Monday, March 5, the championship ends with one talented baker winning the prize money, a feature in Food Network Magazine and the title of Kids Baking Champion.
Long before he auditioned for the show, Aditya launched his baking adventures at age 9 with an apple pie.
“It turned out great,” he said. “Now, my favorite thing to bake is macarons. With macarons, there are so many different techniques you can use, so many different flavors you can experiment with, and it is so rewarding in the end to see macarons rising in the oven with feet — a signature crinkly lining around the bottom of a macaron.”
Aditya, who also likes science, taught himself to bake by watching online videos such as “Joy of Baking,” “Bruno Albouze” and “Gemma Stafford.” He was fascinated by the endless experimentation he could do with a recipe — and that he could eat his experiments.
Food Network programs such as “Cupcake Wars” and “Chopped” also figured into Aditya’s education.
“Everything the contestants do is so creative, and they give me ideas of flavor combinations,” he said.
Now he is the one giving viewers baking ideas.
On the first episode, which aired Jan. 1, Aditya wowed celebrity judges Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli with his boldly-flavored oatmeal raisin cookie cake with spiced buttercream icing and candied ginger — and won the first challenge.
That was “awesome,” he said, just one of the many things he enjoyed about being on the show. But his favorite experience was being able to bake in the top-notch set of “Kids Baking Championship.”
“The kitchen had so many different and cool pantry ingredients to try, and the stations had so much cool equipment. Some of the stations had the most expensive and top-end mixers,” said Aditya. “The worst part about being on the show was the twists to the challenges.”
Aditya’s fellow “Kids Baking Championship” contestants include: Gareth Bennett, 10, of Gaithersburg, MD; Julia Betz, 12, of Key Biscayne, FL; Alex Czajka, 12, of Edmonton, AB; Beverly Hepler, 10, Foster City, CA; Grady Holloway, 11, Chesterfield, MO; Luke Jonsson, 13, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA; Linsey Lam, 13, of Closter, NJ; Abby Martin, 13, of Franklin, WI; Bryn Montgomery, 11, of South Hill, VA; Soleil Thomas, 12, of Livingston, NJ; and Michael Platt, 11, of Bowie, MD.
To catch past episodes, upcoming airtimes, and video and photo highlights, visit foodnetwork.com/shows/kids-baking-championship. Fans can also go behind the scenes with Goldman and Bertinelli to discover more baking tips.